We all get a sore throat from time-to-time and, usually, it goes away on its own without the need for treatment. Sore throat is one of the most common conditions that our GPs and ear, nose and throat specialists see. However, when a sore throat lasts longer than a few days it may be a symptom of an infection or other condition, so it's a good idea to have it checked out.
The most common cause for a sore throat is a virus such as a cold or flu. You can relieve these types of sore throat easily with painkillers such as paracetamol, drinking plenty of liquids and gargling with salt water. It's rare that you will need to see a doctor for this kind of sore throat.
But, occasionally, a sore throat can last longer than a few days, or it can keep coming back. This might be a sign of an infection, such as tonsillitis. The good news is that our ear, nose and throat specialists can diagnose and treat this easily. They'll talk to you about your symptoms and will examine your throat area in order to identify the cause of your sore throat.
Treatment for infections such as tonsillitis can usually be carried out simply and effectively with antibiotics. However, in some cases, the tonsils may need to be removed in order to prevent the infection recurring (known as a tonsillectomy). This is a simple and routine operation, which our ear, nose and throat specialists have a great deal of experience with, so you should not feel worried if you or your child need this done.
A severe sore throat may be a sign of glandular fever. It's caused by a virus (Epstein-Barr) and is most common amongst teenagers and young adults. It's an infectious condition that can be transmitted orally, which is why it's sometimes known as the 'kissing disease'.
Someone with glandular fever will usually have several symptoms, including:
- severe sore throat
- swollen tonsils, sometimes accompanied by a white coating
- feeling generally unwell and, occasionally
- a rash on the arms and legs
The only way to diagnose glandular fever is by a blood test, which you can have at our clinic. There's no need for medical treatment, as it usually goes away on its own. But, you can ease your symptoms by taking paracetamol, drinking plenty of liquids, gargling with salt water to help ease your sore throat, and getting plenty of rest.